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Spark Courageous Ideas

Making an impact one idea at a time

Who We Are

Sparkco is a human-centric marketing and advertising agency with a big heart and bold ideas. We are former ad industry veterans, senior marketers, business operators, digital natives, and brilliant creative minds working as a team to solve business problems. Our mission is to help ambitious companies realize growth through the power of branding, creative ideas, and social engagement. ​
 

The rapid ascendance of digital, mobile, and social media caused massive disruption in the marketing and ad industry. In an attempt to stay relevant, many of us working in the field were seduced by automation software with alluring fairy dust promises and pseudo-marketing jargon that made us sound cooler than we really are. We all lost a bit of our identity and purpose along the way.

Rather than pursuing stronger relationships with customers, we climbed over each other trying to chase the latest trends. Rather than using tech to elevate creativity, we acquiesced to vanity metrics and diluted ideas. Rather than inspiring audiences with compelling stories, we succumbed to the cold logic of data.

Our drive is to bring the spark back to our craft.

Clients deserve better. They deserve a partner that understands how to balance quality work with the speed that modern marketing demands. They deserve people that are versed in business strategy and sales process just as much as the creative process. 

 

Our practice areas are designed to work in concert to solve real-world problems. Every challenge starts with strategy and research to set the direction and focus, and then we concentrate on creating meaningful connections with customers in a quantifiable, results-driven way.

 

We are transparent, communicative, and unabashedly independent-minded when it comes to pushing for breakthrough ideas. 

A Modern Model for Modern Demands

Tell me about yourself and your background? (00:00)


Well, like a lot of people, I didn’t start my career thinking I would end up in advertising and marketing. I graduated with a degree in international economics and went into investment banking and financial services. At one point, I was managing a billion dollars in client assets. But, as fate would have it, I ended up being recruited by one of the “unicorns” of Silicon Valley at the time, ETRADE, as head of product for a high profile start-up business unit. But, the funny thing was—prior to that, I had no formal training in marketing, nor did I have “marketing” in any of my titles. So, here I was, being thrown into the deep end with a steep learning curve to try and lead strategy, manage an agency, and also be point on web design and development. It was an exhilarating experience, but ever since then, I knew that this would be my calling. Now, over the years, I've also had the privilege of running two advertising agencies as CEO and Creative Director and work with some of the most amazing household brands that we’re all really familiar with. So, that was a tremendous experience. I’ve also had the opportunity to co-found a design company, where my personal artwork was carried and showcased by some of the most well-known museums and galleries out there, such as the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Years later, I returned back to corporate, and was Vice President of Brand Strategy and Innovation at a $40 billion bank and then Vice President of People and Culture at a Silicon Valley Credit Union. It’s been a colorful career, to say the least, but it’s also given me a unique perspective on how business works from a practical sense. I’ve led marketing departments in large enterprise matrix organizations, run ad agencies and creative departments, knowing how the challenges were for my clients. But I also have the operating and practical knowledge of running my own small business. I think that’s a unique perspective, understanding both sides of the equationboth the client and the agency, in a way unlike many people have. And so, the lesson here is to be resourceful and to be imaginative. I’m going to take that lesson and now apply it to clients, and hopefully, that will change the trajectory of their business for the better. So, that’s what keeps me motivated and gives me pride.




What are the marketing challenges companies face today? (03:10)


One of the biggest challenges is marketers generally forget that people don’t care what we have to say. Now, that may sound really harsh, but it’s really true. Advertising still has a place as part of a holistic marketing strategy, but we really need to ask ourselves this first: is the content that we’re putting out there worthy of my audience's time and attention? I think if more marketers took more care in respecting people’s time, we’d have a lot less of this me-too, bland, and forgettable marketing efforts that we’re seeing out there all the time. In fact, the CEO of the Effies... Now, the Effies are an awards company that judges creative advertising—came out and let people know that her company did a study on what made award-winning ads. And she summed it up in one sentence: if you want to create effective work, the safest bet is to take the biggest risk. Now, let that sink in for just a bit. "The safest bet is to take the biggest risk." Business is like life—if you want to overcome major challenges, you’re going to find the courage to be willing to stand out and be different.




What marketing tip can you offer companies? (4:54)


Tips I can offer companies… I think it’s important to have a plan for near-term results, but also have a long-term strategy for marketing success. So, what that means, in practical terms, is that don’t get caught up in the hamster wheel of trying to always keep up with the latest digital marketing trends and dogging over the minutiae of the metrics at the expense of long-term brand and brand equity building. Both are important, so we need to find that balance and making sure you’re invested in both.




What do you enjoy doing outside of work? (5:37)


What do I enjoy doing outside of work? Over the years, I’ve actually learned to appreciate the simple things in life. For example, every day I’ll take my dog out for long walks and listen to podcasts, just to get exercise and learn and be in my own moment. I also enjoy traveling around the world; trying to do that at least once or twice a year with my family. And, I have to say, I actually enjoy this on-demand entertainment world we live in. I haven’t watched real television for quite some time, except for live sports, where I follow my beloved 49ers and Warriors—don’t hate me if you guys aren’t fans of those teams. But yeah, I would consider one of my favorite guilty pleasures is to binge-watch Stranger Things 3, which is a great season by the way.




What is one word you would use to describe yourself? (6:37)


Perseverance.





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